Fish Fry Friday #6 – EDWINS Butcher Shop

I hit the “I can’t look at another fried fish” point and was going to sit today out – until one of my friends re-posted a status update from EDWINS Butcher Shop advertising a six piece shrimp dinner with fries and slaw for $5.99 or a 12 piece for $9.99 on Facebook. Shrimp sounded good to me, so I called to make sure they had some left (it was about 40 minutes to their closing time) and headed out. I only live 11 minutes from there, so it was nice to stick close to home tonight.

I parked on the street outside the butcher shop, since it was just on 6:30, and headed into the butcher shop. It’s a cute little storefront. About half of it is tables for people to eat their food, and the other half is a large meat counter, coolers, a small freezer and a well-curated selection of specialty items.

I purchased my shrimp dinner and then browsed while I waited. I was not going to shop, but then I was tempted by the Sprecher’s Root Beer and prepared Banana Pudding in one of the coolers. So then of course I needed a strip steak, Colman’s mustard powder, some chocolate for wine pairings and Italian bread from Orlando. Right as I was checking out, my dinner came out of the kitchen. I grabbed my shopping bag and headed out as the next customer ordered a couple fish dinners and a chicken dinner. It was 6:50.

I drove home with the delicious smell wafting through the car and anticipated a good meal. I was not disappointed. The shrimp were pounded a little thinner than I like, but they were still moist with a crunchy exterior. There was a slice of lemon hidden under the fries, which I squeezed over the shrimp to give it a light, bright lemon flavor. The fries had a nice light seasoning to them, and the slaw was good. I didn’t come for the slaw though. The 12 piece dinner was delicious and definitely hit the spot. I ate a couple spoonfuls of creamy and luscious banana pudding and popped it back in the fridge for later.

EDWINS is also serving a fried cod sandwich and catfish po’boy for Lent if you want something portable. I’ll definitely be back to try some of their other sandwiches and hot meals. They regularly serve a 1/2 chicken, fried chicken, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, burgers, and wings with a host of sides.

 

Contact info:

EDWINS Butcher Shop
13025 Buckeye Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44120
(216) 417-1100

Fish Fry Friday #5 – St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church

St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church has a special place in my heart. It is where my grandparents and uncle are buried. My dad spent many childhood weekends in the fellowship hall. When all of my friends couldn’t make the fish fry at St. Gabriel’s in Concord I decided to stop by the cemetery and grab some excellent fish and pierogi. I was at this fish fry a few years ago with fellow bloggers Tom and Alicia. Tom is the one who inspired my love of fish fries with his Lenten Project. He would visit two fish fries a night and rate them. His post on April 4, 2011 commemorates our first visit to St. Andrew.

My ideal fish fry has fried fish and homemade pierogi, which is surprisingly not all that common. St. Andrew and many other fish fries in Parma are known for their pierogi more than for their fish. I drove past St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on my way to St. Andrew. All three have stellar pierogi and are on State Road.

The room is small and lots of people staked their claim. The line to pay and get the dinners from the kitchen is on the right. The to-go area is in the middle of the photo against the wall. The condiments and dessert table is to the left, and the bar is not pictured but built into a cubby in the wall to the left.

After turning onto Pleasant Valley and then Hoertz, I stopped by my grandparents’ and uncle’s grave to say hi before heading to the Hall. I drove through the cemetery, but you can bypass the cemetery by following the signs to the Hall to the left of the cemetery.

Queued up for fish at 5:10 PM

Dinners are served from 5 to 7:30 during Lent. On our last visit Tom lamented that the fish was a little dry, so I got there fairly early to see if an earlier start time means better fish. I am pleased to say it does. The place was packed, and I queued up in line only to learn that there was a separate area for to-go orders. I had had lunch at The Blue Door earlier that day so 5 pm was a good start time but not good because I wasn’t hungry at the time. I also wondered if I would find a seat.

Kitchen window with the kitchen workers hard at work

Apart from a line to the kitchen window to pick up the dinners, the eat-in queue uses the same stations as the to-go queue. There is also someone who will try to accommodate larger groups by reserving seats while you are in line. The place is not big though, so groups may be out of luck depending on when they are there.

Get in line and grab your condiments, cole slaw or apple sauce, bread and butter, dessert and coffee

After ordering my fried fish and pierogi dinner ($13) and a side of cabbage and noodles ($3) I queued up for my condiments and dessert. I was offered a choice of cole slaw or apple sauce. The server suggested the cole slaw when I asked. It was homemade and topped with a dash of paprika. They also had smooth and chunky apple sauce. I was next offered a slice of bread, and it was served by a woman wearing gloves who put it in a sandwich bag for me. No need to stick your hand in a bag of bread here! I should also note all the people serving food wore plastic head coverings.

I had a tough time deciding what dessert to choose. There was a wide variety of cake slices, brownies, cookies and chocolate pudding, but I decided to get the panna cotta topped with pureed strawberries. She managed to put a top on it and put it in a box so I could transport it to go. It ended up flipping over in the trunk of my car, but the lid kept everything in place and it only leaked a little juice into the napkins in the bag and the strawberries slid to the side. I could have also gotten coffee or decaf coffee at that station, because coffee is included in the meal price. I then made my way back to the to-go area and waited until the runner with my meal called out my name and verified my order. I grabbed a ginger ale from the bar before heading out.

Cabbage and noodles – well-seasoned and not bland at all

This is where things got a little esoteric. As I was leaving, Iz’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow was playing over the speaker outside. There was no music inside as far as I can recall, but for some reason they were piping out music in front of the Hall and it just happened to be a version of my uncle’s favorite song. We played Eva Cassidy’s version at his funeral. I can only assume he was sending me a message thanking me for the visit, and I walked to my car sobbing. I called my sister in tears to share it with her, and we talked about how much we missed our relatives. I particularly miss them around Easter, because my grandmother’s Easter dinners were legendary and my favorite meal every year growing up. Easter was so special at their house. She would make ham and fresh kielbasa and serve them with homemade pierogi (I have a feeling they were from St. Josaphat’s) and soft, yeasty dinner rolls. The house always smelled wonderful, and we would have an Easter egg hunt while dressed in our Easter finery. Those were the days! I had to take a minute to compose myself before driving off.

Flaky fish and plump pierogi served with a little container of melted butter and caramelized onion to pour over it and crown with sour cream

Once I got home I dove into the meal. The fish was flaky and moist, the pierogi were plump and delicious, and the cole slaw was one of the best I’ve had this Lenten season. I saved half of the meal for tomorrow, but I finished the dessert. I’m almost sad this isn’t the last Fish Fry Friday, because it would have definitely been ending on a high note.

Note: the fish and pierogi were just as divine for breakfast the next day after 5 minutes in the air fryer.

Contact info:

St. Andrew Ukrainian Catholic Church (Back Hall)
7700 Hoertz Road
Parma, OH
440-843-9149

Fish Fry Friday #4: Benedictine High School

I have a new rule to live by: if a fish fry is run by boys stay far away.

Benedictine High School is a private, Roman Catholic, college preparatory high school for men, located in Cleveland off Martin Luther King Boulevard. The school serves grades 9–12 and has an enrollment of just under 400 young men.

I don’t even know where to start with this disaster. OK, driving in. Apart from a sign on the road there is no indication which outbuilding houses the fish fry. I had to ask a bunch of young men who explained it was in the cafeteria, but don’t ask me where that was. I drove toward a building that said Field House and asked someone else and he explained I could park and walk under the walkway and it would be on the right. Luckily the weather was nice and the door was propped open or I wouldn’t have had a clue which door to go in. Some signage with arrows would be very helpful. Or even just someone standing in the parking lot directing people where to go. But the fish fry wasn’t all that well-attended, so that might be overkill. I should have caught the clue then.

Once I walked into the cafeteria I had to figure out what was going on. The big sign on the wall was apparently from lunch. I missed the silverware, cafeteria trays and napkins, so if you go know that it’s against the wall to your right. There were four dinners to choose from. The signs taped to a table informed me that I could have a two pieces of fried fish, one piece of baked fish, nine pieces of shrimp or eight pierogi. The dinners come with baked potato or french fries, cole slaw or applesauce, bread (grab a piece from the open bags of wheat or white bread sitting there), and coffee, tea or milk. Side orders were available for $2.50 or $3.50 depending on what you wanted. Pop was $0.50 a can. Dessert was available at a bake sale off to the side of the cafeteria. I spent $14 for my meal, sides and two cans of pop.

I was there at around 5:30 and was informed they were out of fish and it would be about 2 minutes. As I stood there they plated up a side of pierogi and a bowl of chowder and stack of crackers for me. I grabbed some condiments and my slice of bread and a pat of butter and waited. When the fish came out they started serving the people who had just walked in until one of the older men supervising noticed and had them serve me. Some of the fish had broken apart and the young man tried to give me a couple pieces parts until I pointed out to the supervisor that there were supposed to be two pieces. Awkward.

Once I paid, bought my pop and sat down I opened up the to-go box (which I requested because I knew I wouldn’t finish) and was just overwhelmed by the food service of it all. I thought I’d have a couple pierogi and chowder with a few bites of fish and pack up the rest. The chowder was the blandest, worst chowder I’ve ever had, so I popped the lid back on and will be doctoring it up tomorrow for lunch. Nothing a little dill and seasoned salt can’t fix. The pierogi did not look appetizing at all, but they weren’t as dry as they look. That was the best part of the meal. The fish was okay. It could have been moister, but it was at least edible. The cole slaw was okay. I chose the baked potato since it is easier to warm up as leftovers, although this isn’t a meal I am looking forward to eating again.

When I left at six o’clock they had run out of individual sour cream packets and had a pint of sour cream and a spoon sitting on the table with the condiments.

If you ever find yourself at this fish fry (but I wouldn’t recommend it), do yourself and order the grilled cheese. It seemed like the most popular choice.

Contact info:

Benedictine High School
2900 Martin Luther King Jr Drive
Cleveland, OH 44104

Fish Fry Friday #3: Firehouse Grille and Pub

The fish fry at Firehouse Grille and Pub in Willoughby Hills was listed as one of Cleveland Magazine’s Fish Fry We Love. It features Icelandic cod battered in Great Lakes’ Dortmunder Gold or broiled ($11.99 for the regular dinner portion and $12.99 for the all-you-can-eat Friday special) and is served with two sides. They had me at Icelandic cod, and I knew I needed to come here for one of our Lenten fish fries. That wasn’t and was a mistake. It wasn’t a mistake because the fish fry is delicious; however, it was a mistake because I could have come here at any time during the year for their AYCE Friday special. In fact, I can’t even eat more than one piece of fish and some cole slaw and fries before tapping out, so just ordering it off the menu on, say, a Monday would also work.

This place is crazy on Fridays during Lent. I was told that you need to call on Monday or Tuesday to get a reservation for Friday and by Wednesday they are booked. You can still get in to have dinner, but you are going to wait. I had a group going, but decided to cancel it because of the wait. A couple of us went anyway and ended up waiting for 40 minutes (after being quoted 30 minutes). The place is tucked away in amidst about four different restaurants, so parking was seriously lacking. I lucked out and got a spot near the door without realizing the nondescript building in back was in fact The Firehouse Grille. Another complaint is that patrons do not comply with state law of smoking 25 feet from the building. Instead they smoke under the roof, right outside the doors, and the cigarette smoke wafts in while you are standing or sitting in the hallway waiting for a table. Sure, it’s a bar with pool tables, but if you have asthma or an allergy you might want to actually sit at the bar instead of stand/sit in the hallway.

Once we were shown to our table the friendly server greeted us and got our drink orders. Once he brought our drinks we gave him our orders. I wish I hadn’t looked at the menu, because I decided not to get the fish fry when I saw a sandwich called The Crabby Boy. It is basically a Big Mac made of crab cakes instead of burger patties. Specifically, two crab cakes in a triple sesame seed bun, topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce and Cajun tartar sauce. And yes, it is on the regular menu. It is served with spicy homemade chips. The chips were a bit too spicy for me that day, as my stomach was feeling a little dodgy. The sandwich itself was definitely a unique sandwich. The crab cakes were soft so it didn’t hold up real well once I cut it in half, but it was a fun Lent alternative.

I also ordered the clam chowder. It is a New England clam chowder, and wow, was it tasty. It was chock full of clams and chunks of potatoes and celery. Definitely homemade. It had a buttery taste to it with some serious dill undertones. I would go back for the chowder alone!

My friends loved the fish and chips there. They are hard-core fish and chips fans (one is from England), so that is high praise. They are going to be back for it. The fish was flaky and perfectly fried – not too greasy. The french fries/chips were nice and thick like they serve in England. They even got to douse them in malt vinegar, which I have to say really added to the flavor. They were less enthused about the cole slaw, which they found to be a little too sweet. But they will definitely be regulars at the Firehouse from now on. We’ll be back – just not on a Friday during Lent.

I got to enjoy my meal with cold beer on tap (a red ale) and they enjoyed some Strongbow Cider, which you can’t do at church fish fries. It was a good night.

Contact info:

Firehouse Grille and Pub
2768 Stark Drive
Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
(440) 943-4983

Fish Fry Friday #2: Luchita’s

Luchita’s has been in my awareness since it opened in the 1980s. My father used to work at Richman Brothers with Luchita’s son-in-law, Tedd. He would talk about Luchita and her cooking. I didn’t get a chance to try it for myself until after I moved back from Germany in the early 2000s. Luchita is long retired, but it is still family-run.

From the outside, Luchita’s looks like a dingy corner bar in a working-class neighborhood, but magic happens inside. Luchita’s is one of Cleveland’s best Mexican restaurants.

I learned about Luchita’s fish fry last year in one of my food groups. Since I am a sucker for Mexican street corn I knew this had to be on the list this Lenten season. I got a group of friends to trek to W. 117th in Lakewood to enjoy this delicious and out-of-the-ordinary fish fry. I made a reservation because they want prior notice for tables of 6+.

My one friend and I carpooled together and got there very early because we were expecting heavy traffic on the roads. We arrived 40 minutes before the 6:30 reservation, so we parked ourselves at the bar and had a margarita and dished all things Broadway. The margarita was freshly made, but I was less than impressed with it. It tasted mostly like ice/water. I’ve had good margaritas at Luchita’s before, so I’m going to chalk it up as a one-off oops.

Once two more in our party arrived we were shown to our table in the adjacent dining room, even though we were still before the 6:30 res. We managed to order another round of drinks after we sat, and I decided on a sangria. This was definitely the better choice. One of my dining companions upgraded the tequila and enjoyed her margarita. We fell on the delicious chips and salsa like a bunch of locusts. By the time our other friend arrived the server brought us another salsa and chips. The chips are warm and inviting, and the salsa had a nice kick and flavor to it. I am embarrassed to say I filled up quite a bit on that salsa – and had a couple of bites of a side of delicious and creamy guac one of my dining companions ordered.

We were there for the fish fry, so we did not bother perusing the menu closely. All five of us ordered the fish fry, which made our server’s life easier. The fish fry features beer battered fish, chipotle tartar sauce, Mexican street corn, mac & cheese with salsa verde, and a cucumber-radish-carrot salad that was delicious. The fish was perfectly fried and not too greasy. The Mexican street corn was just a delicious mess. I ended up wearing it down the front of my shirt and had to wash my hands. The mac n cheese was a nice version of noodles covered in a cheese with a bit of a kick to it. The cavatappi were not overcooked, and the noodle to cheese ratio was just right. I have no idea what was in the dressing for the salad/slaw, but we all agreed that it was fantastic. The dinner was $17.95 and worth it.

I couldn’t make up my mind, so I also ordered the lobster and shrimp quesadilla. I figured we could all eat it as an appetizer, not realizing that it was a dinner portion size. I should have known it would be a lot when the waitress was taken aback when I ordered it. It was filled with large chunks of lobster and shrimp, and I really, really loved every bite. Be forewarned: the quesadillas were $18.95. I was surprised when I got the bill, but it truly was worth it with the chunks of seafood.

We rolled out of there with boxes for our leftovers and happy stomachs. If you are looking for a good fish fry and love Mexican definitely check this place out!

Contact info:

Luchita’s Mexican Restaurant
3456 W 117th Street
Cleveland, OH 44111
(216) 252-1169

Fish Fry Friday #1: Arthur Treacher’s

Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips is a fast food seafood restaurant chain. At the peak of its popularity in the late 1970s, it had about 800 stores. Now, there are only four of the original old-style stores left – all in Northeast Ohio. The busiest is on Rockside Road (near the intersection wtih Turney Road) in Garfield Heights. I love going there and reliving my childhood memories of fried fish and that amazing cole slaw. I went a long time without eating there, and just one bite of the cole slaw had me realizing that it was the cole slaw I had been comparing all other cole slaws to. It is a nice, wet, mayo-ey cole slaw, which I prefer.

Things have not changed much at Arthur Treacher’s. The decor is firmly from the 1970s – as is the carpet. The food is still served on trays, and the condiments are pumped into little paper cups. You have your choice of ketchup, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. I wish they wouldn’t use so much styrofoam, but understand their business model hasn’t changed since the 1970s so why wouldn’t they.

I made the mistake of going there on Good Friday once. That is probably their busiest day of the year. The line was almost out the door and didn’t let up the whole time I was there. Business had slowed down until the Cleveland.com article in 2016 and then news of its existence also hit social media, so they are happy to report they are doing well. It’s apparently become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with people traveling there from far away to experience it again.

Chicken dinner with cole slaw

The food still stood up to my memories. It isn’t gourmet, but childhood memories rarely are. I ordered the chowder, a fish and chip combo and a side of cole slaw. I can never finish the meal here and always bring half of it home. The fish is better than some of the fish I’ve had at other fish fries – flaky with a light batter. The chips are satisfying and made my British friend happy and “more at home” than most chips. And I usually save a hush puppy as my last bite. I really enjoy the sweet flavor yet savory texture of the perfectly fried hush puppies.

Seafood combo dinner – fish, shrimp and clam strips – and a cole slaw

I ordered the fish and chicken dinner here once, and although it was okay I will continue to order the fish. It was too jarring for me. Chicken doesn’t seem to belong with all the seafood, but I guess folks who don’t like fish or seafood have to eat too. I like the fried shrimp. They are plump and well fried without drying out. I am less enamored with the clam strips. They tend to get dried out and are a little too chewy for my tastes.

I can also recommend the seafood chowder. The first time I ordered it I don’t know what happened but it had an overwhelmingly metallic taste. I gave it a second chance the other day and enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for a decent chowder.

Contact info:

Cleveland area:
12585 Rockside Road
Garfield Heights, OH
216-662-6067

Akron area:
926 E. Waterloo Road
Akron, OH
330-724-9990

1833 State Road
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
330-923-8900

Niles:
2 Youngstown Warren Road
Pinetree Square
Niles, OH
330-505-2625

Bonus Fish Fry Friday – La Vera Party Center

I thought fish fry season was over, but it turns out it was only the churches because of their Good Friday services. Restaurants and alternative venues like Big Met Golf Course were still dishing out fish and other Lenten-friendly foods. Being raised Lutheran the only day we really refrain from eating meat is on Good Friday. I usually forget and remember as I bite into a sandwich or enjoy something with bacon. This year I was good and stayed meatless.

I’ve been hearing about La Vera and its fish fry for a few years now. My old hairdresser grew up there and still spends New Year’s Eve there with her family. Her mother is apparently quite well-known there, being an old Italian family in Cleveland (her aunt runs a small place in Little Italy for primarily locals). One of my friends is a huge fan of the fish fry and goes every year (if not twice in the season), so I spontaneously decided to give it a try on Good Friday.

La Vera has been in business as a catering and event center since 1952. It can accommodate events ranging from 100-720 guests for a variety of junctions including weddings, proms, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversary parties, luncheons, holiday company parties, sales rallies, seminars, auction and fund raisers. So finding parking was not a problem. They have a spacious parking lot in back.

TLDR: I was underwhelmed, but will give it another shot next year.

I rolled up on La Vera just before 6 PM. I figured it was prime fish fry attendance time and expected a line. To my surprise there was only a back up at the entrance due to someone with a walker and a couple other people chit-chatting and blocking the hallway. I followed the guy in front of me to the dining area. The reservations and credit card customers have their own dining room, because he and his wife were sent on their way to the other room. I paid my $11 to the cashier and was shown to a table. I was surprised, because it had been advertised as $12 per person.

The venue itself was very pretty. Ornate statues, mirrors and chandeliers. My mother’s godmother would have felt right at home. And they had a coat room, which was a nice touch.

After sitting for a second I asked the folks at my table what to do. They directed me to the line where they were dishing out two kinds of fish and sides like macaroni and cheese, whipped potatoes, penne in marinara sauce, and cabbage and noodles. I decided to skip the whipped potatoes and got small portions of everything else. My plate was still full. I grabbed a roll, butter, tartar sauce, a plastic container of cole slaw and napkins and silverware. A woman was ladling out soup at the end of the table, but I could not carry it all. I put my plate down at my table and headed back to get salad and a bowl of soup. I also grabbed some non-alcoholic beverages that were lined up on the bar.

Everything was okay. My favorite thing that night was the cole slaw. I don’t know if the regulars were all at Good Friday services, but everything just tasted bland to me. Both the fried beer battered pollock and baked cod were also kind of dry and nothing to get excited about. I ate the pollock and left some cod on the plate. The cabbage and noodles were full of big pieces of cabbage. I almost salted everything up, but resisted. That soup that everyone raves about? The pasta fagioli? I just thought it was meh. Like watered down tomato soup. To be fair, I’m really not a huge fan of tomato soup. The salad was good, with a nice Italian dressing.

On the plus side, I really enjoyed chatting with my table full of strangers. We recommended various fish fries to one another and talked about the crime of big business stealing pensions from hard-working employees. One big plus was that the dessert table was still plentifully stocked when I went to grab some dessert (even though I was full and left a lot on my plate). There were trays of cookies, some jello and slices of cake. I grabbed a small piece of cake, which I found cloyingly sweet, but it grew on me and I enjoyed it. It was nice and moist.

And you can’t beat the price – $11/12 for all-you-can-eat. Unfortunately I can never eat more than one plate at AYCE spots. The guy next to me went back for seconds, and my friend’s friend went back for thirds the last time they were there. So if you value quantity over quality this is the place for you. Like I said, maybe I was just having an off night and am being a little harsh, because I have heard rave reviews from people whose opinions I value.

Contact info:

La Vera Party Center
32200 Chardon Road
Willoughby Hills, OH 44094
(440) 943-0087